Public education advocates propose alternatives to STAAR test

Public education advocates stressed the need for increased teacher support and criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to tie public education funding to a school voucher program in the ongoing special legislative session during a Texas Tribune event Wednesday.
Abbott, who has made vouchers his top legislative priority this year, added public education funding to his special session agenda Tuesday. The governor, who had previously threatened to withhold the funding from his agenda until the Texas Legislature passed a voucher program, said he added the item after reaching a deal with leaders in the House, where voucher legislation has stalled. House leaders declined to say whether a deal has been reached.
Michelle Rinehart, superintendent of the Alpine Independent School District, said vouchers shouldn’t be tied to school funding in order to get the program approved. Along with increased funding for teacher raises and school safety measures, Abbott’s expanded agenda included legislation to phase out the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness and replace it with alternative standardized tests.
Though federal law mandates a form of standardized testing in all public schools, public education advocates have long criticized the STAAR test as an ineffective measure of student achievement. Rather than standardized tests, panelists said they would like to see an alternative accountability system that accounts for factors like a student’s classroom performance and extracurricular activities.

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